The taste of happiness is sweet. Metaphorically, of course, but when it comes to narrowing down one single facet that encapsulates the feeling of happiness and creates its physical manifestation, it has to be sweet. Or rather, sweets – rows upon rows of them, which exist in a constant state of evolution.
Sweets or mithais as we call them, have been our constant companions in times of celebrations since centuries. In fact, most festivals in India have a sweet treat that is synonymous with them. The laddoos of Basant Panchami or the gujiyas of Holi are so intrinsic to the entire experience of these festivals that they would feel absolutely incomplete without them. Imagine Christmas without the dark, moist cake or Easter without the Easter eggs and you get the picture.
“Mithais are synonymous with tradition and festivities, since mithais are an important component of the Indian cultureand have a major significance forevery occasion in our community,” says Arshya Aggarwal, founder of Nihira, who have been ushering in a major evolution in the concept of mithais. “Sweets are regarded as ‘Shubh’ or a good omen provided on auspicious occasions. Any fresh beginnings or festivities are begun with mithais, making memories of the accomplishment and bond shared forever more beautiful and meaningful.”
“Be it a wedding or when some one’s had a baby orwhen your kids have graduated! The first ever thingwe say is, ‘Muh Meetha Karlo’”, says Neha Lakhani, co-owner, along with Ashay Dhopatkar, of Arq, which has promulgated the concept of artisanal mithais. “It is perhaps a well-conceived notion that sweetness equals happiness.”
That is the reason why there have been such sweeping innovations in the conceptualisation of mithais that they are now a part of new sub-category of sweet treats. “Just as with food trends chocolates and other sweets continue to change, so have mithais,” says Arshya Aggarwal. “Wehave seen a lot more flavours, healthy alternatives likesugar-free, gluten-free options in mithais, and even chocolate getting incorporated in mithais. It is all about the trending food palettes that are constantly changing.”
“We believe luxury is all about attention to minute detail,” explains Ashay Dhopatkar. “That is what separates a normal product from a luxury product and Arq goes way beyond luxury mithai. That is why we like to call it Artisanal Mithai. We started with the idea ofcompletely preservative and artificial additive-free mithaiand even our packaging is 99% plastic-free.”
So how does the idea of mithai remain relevant at a time when health-consciousness occupies a large share of voice in the mind space of most people? “We have to come up with different concepts, from less sugar to only-jaggery to protein flour to sugar free and differentproducts because people are extremely health conscious these days,” says Pooja Gogia, Director, Shakkr Sweets, who are known for their sweet inventiveness. “That is the reason why we keep innovating in terms of taste and presentation. Shakkr is known for its innovative mithaiand impeccable presentation.”
“We have specifically worked to make mithais subtle onsweetness and also offer sugar-free options,” says Arshya.“There is a certain comfort zone with mithais. You look at them and know exactly how they will taste. It is reassuring. It’ll never go out of fashion.”